Academic journal article Southern Cultures

Whither Southern Republicans?

Academic journal article Southern Cultures

Whither Southern Republicans?

Article excerpt

If the truth be known, many southern Republicans are pinching themselves as the 1998 election approaches, amazed at and wondering about the extent of their success. Consider recent Republican accomplishments in the formerly Democratic "Solid South." Republicans hold eighty-two of the U.S. House seats in the thirteen-state South, up from forty-four in 1990. The Democrats retain only fifty-five seats. More than any other single factor, Republican success in these southern seats shifted national control of Congress from the Democrats to the Republicans.

Republicans hold eighteen of the southern U.S. Senate seats, double the number in 1990, to only eight for the Democrats. Republicans also control nine governor seats, triple the number of just four years ago, to four for the Democrats.

Republicans now control five of the twenty-six southern state legislative chambers: the state House of Representatives in South Carolina and North Carolina, the state Senate in Texas, both houses in Florida, as well as a tie in the Virginia State Senate. Moreover, Republicans could take control before the turn of the century in as many as nine more.

The number of Republican congressmen in Georgia shot up from one to eight in only two elections -- 1992 and 1994 -- and all eight were reelected in 1996. White Democratic congressmen, the political farm team for future statewide candidates, were totally wiped out.

REPUBLICANS AND WHITE VOTERS

Our firm conducted a large number of tracking surveys in three southern states (North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia) during the fall of 1996. The extent and pattern of Republican gains among white voters in those states were visible in the data (see Table 1).

Table 1. 1996 Party Identification for White Voters
by Selected Demographic Characteristics

                                   South Carolina
                                      2307 Cases
                                  Margin of Error
                                   [+ or -] 2.08

                     Rep         Indep         Dem          % of
                     53%          21%          26%         Total

IDEOLOGY
Conservative         70%          16%          14%          55%
Moderate             35%          30%          35%          31%
Liberal              23%          24%          53%          14%

AGE
18 to 34             61%          17%          22%          19%
35 to 49             57%          19%          25%          32%
50 to 64             52%          25%          23%          26%
65 and older         43%          24%          34%          23%

INCOME
< $15,000            41%          21%          39%           9%
$15,000-$30,000      44%          26%          30%          19%
$30,000-$50,000      55%          20%          25%          28%
$50,000  +           66%          14%          20%          28%

EDUCATION
< High School        37%          23%          41%           8%
High School          44%          28%          29%          28%
Some College         57%          20%          23%          28%
College Graduate     62%          17%          22%          25%
Post College         60%          16%          24%          11%

GENDER
Men                  57%          23%          20%          47%
Women                50%          20%          31%          53%

                                     Georgia
                                    2620 Cases
                                  Margin of Error
                                   [+ or -] 1.95

                     Rep         Indep         Dem          % of
                     49%          20%          32%         Total

IDEOLOGY
Conservative         67%          15%          18%          53%
Moderate             30%          29%          42%          34%
Liberal              23%          14%          63%          13%

AGE
18 to 34             56%          15%          29%          25%
35 to 49             52%          19%          30%          35%
50 to 64             48%          19%          33%          25%
65 and older         34%          24%          41%          15%

INCOME
< $15,000            30%          19%          51%           7%
$15,000-$30,000      41%          17%          42%          15%
$30,000-$50,000      49%          19%          32%          24%
$50,000  +           59%          17%          24%          34%

EDUCATION
< High School        26%          22%          52%           7%
High School          43%          20%          37%          26%
Some College         53%          19%          28%          26%
College Graduate     57%          18%          26%          31%
Post College         48%          19%          33%          10%

GENDER
Men                  52%          20%          28%          50%
Women                46%          19%          35%          50%

                                     North Carolina
                                       985 Cases
                                    Margin of Error
                                      [+ or -] 3. … 
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